Ramon Allones 898 Varnished


Today's pre-Christmas, reading smoke was the Cuban Ramon Allones 898, varnished. This cigar is yet another example of the elegant Dalias vitola de galera, a size that I find to be versatile; comfortable in the hand as well as held in the mouth. I just don't feel as suave with a whopping Piramides or Canonazos clenched between my teeth. (IMG:style_emoticons/default/wink.gif) Other cigars in this vitola are the Cohiba Siglo V, Bolivar Inmensas and the 2005 Montecristo "D" EL. It is in the same size range as the Cazadores: R&J Cazadores, Cervantes: VR Clasicos and Coronas Grandes: Siglo III. I think some would regard cigars of these approximate dimension as "connoisseur's" sizes meaning relatively more demanding of good smoking technique while rewarding with charms particular to the thinner gauges.

Unfortunately, the RA898V is now discontinued and getting very hard to find. This is a shame since the pleasures this cigar afford are worthy of continued enjoyment by Habanophiles everywhere. This unbanded specimen was my only one and was generously gifted by a first class botl, tone-ny.

The setting was my garage lounge as this afternoon much of the New England and Mid-Atlantic region was treated to unseasonably warm temperatures. Accompaniments were a Tanqueray Ten martini and my wife's extra-boozy rum ring cake. Although it looks like a plain yellow bundt cake, it's loaded with a sugary, buttery rummy liquid. There are 1.25 cups of rum or 10 shots in this sucker (IMG:style_emoticons/default/biggrin.gif) (IMG:style_emoticons/default/thumbs-up.gif)



Prelight and Initial Stage
This cigar had a perfectly springy feel and was skillfully wrapped in a lightly toothy colorado capa. The tell tale triple cap was nicely laid and the bunching was well-executed. I am an absolute fanatic when it comes to a good draw and when selecting cigars, I always check the bunching at the foot. I look for a nice even distribution with no regions of tightly booked leaves. Although not perfectly diagnostic of problematic draws (you might still encounter a plug) the presence of plentiful channels at the foot often suggests a free-drawing stick.

The scent of this stick was delicate and light. Lighting up was trouble-free and after a few cleansing puffs, the 898 started to deliver its payload. The smoke volume was light to moderate and the scent was delicate tobacco with touches of wood and cedar. Though the body was no more than mild-medium, the mouth feel was cool and very, very smooth without being creamy. Very refreshing. Initial impressions were of light, clean tobacco, cedar and woodiness and some very interesting aromatic floral notes. In my experience, quite uncommon.

Between the first third and midpoint, I started to notice a pronounced sweetness. Not honey sweet, it reminded me of fresh sugarcane. For those who have not tried it, chewing tough, fibrous sugarcane releases a lightly grassy sweet sap that is the raw ingredient for making rum. The burn wandered slightly necessitating fairly regular touch-ups. The draw remained spot on, neither too easy nor too tight. So far, this cigar struck me as very poised, elegant and suave. Though only about a 2/5 in strength, it was perfectly balanced.

Finish and Final Impressions
As I read my papers, I kept puffing. I noticed that unlike many smaller gauge cigars that do very well with gentle and paced puffing, this cigar actually delivered better with deeper, firmer draws. Even the occasional double-draw was tolerated. Smoking it in this fashion released deeper, richer notes at a different balance point. It was sort of like listening to your stereo with the bass turned down then slowly turning it up. The tune is the same, but you start to feel it in your gut.

I was now getting a deeper pure tobacco flavor along with even more complex woods and a "browner" sweetness. The delicate floral notes had faded by the two-thirds point, replaced by a strange savory flavor and scent that must be what people call "barnyard." I really can't describe it any better than that. It was a fertile, musty sort of earthy base. Not objectionable but unique and a first time for me. When I occasionally took smoke through my nose, I was able to gather more flavors. The lack of bite or sharpness when doing this suggests a well-aged stick though I do not know the box date of this cigar. The lingering aroma on my fingers and clothing was delicate and pleasant. Aftertaste was refreshing light and worthy of some lip smacking.

The cigar held true to this character until the last 3/4 inch. Just prior to this, I started to get chestnutty notes and a bit more tanginess and then, finally, it started to turn a bit acrid. So, finally, after one hour and forty minutes, I finally set it down. Subsequent dissection of the nub showed no tar buildup. This cigar had simply delivered all that it had, with finesse and style.

In summation:
A wonderful smoke with an uncommon, distinctive character. Not powerful, not rich, not assertive in any particular fashion. Elegant, complex, balanced and completely relaxing. If I could describe a cigar as having human aspects, I'd describe this one as intelligent, suave and slightly idiosyncratic but a wonderfully engrossing conversation partner.

On retrospect, a gin martini was not the best match for a cigar of this type. Neither powerful enough to counter the straight liquor nor rich enough to assert itself, it was almost impossible to taste right after a sip. I found that I had to nibble some rum cake to "relax" my palate so I could properly taste the cigar again. A light coffee, light ale or tawny porto might have been better choices.



I smoke therefore I am!
Wilkey you just want to make go and smoke one of those fine cigars! Now if you can send me a slice of that bundt cake I'll be all set :thumbs:


Sheriff Buck
Another great review. This is the favorite of a friend of mine who has no less then 20 boxes put away. I've never had one that did anything for me which is probably a good thing.


cigars and computars
Wilkey, thanks again for another wonderful review. 1 hour 40 minutes, A marathon smoke!

Have a Happy Holidays.


New Member
Wilkey, nice review and great pics! Makes me want to drink, smoke and eat cake ... and it's not even 9 a.m. here yet. :)


No can do. I already asked and they won't let you ship liquor in the mails. ;)

I'm not sure I'd put away a box, much less 20. While I can appreciate its unique characteristics, it's not something that either awes me or gives me great comfort. And as far as stocking up, it's cigars that fall into those two categories that compel me to put them up.

Yeah, time just slipped by in an alcoholic, smokey haze :D



New Member
amazing review...i could almost taste your smoke while I read your words. Hope the holidays find you doing well.

- Gordo

The Master

New Member
Nice review. I find the 898 to be of medium strength( pretty good nose)and very complex. They are one of my favorite Dalias along with the Partagas Seleccion Privada 1 and Bolivar Inmensas.


Looking for Effortless Perfection
I smoked one of these for New Year's Eve. It was very tasty. The first one I tried was plugged, but this one burned great and tasted better all the way down.